Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
PROVO — More than 800 former players, coaches and their families turned out for BYU's annual Alumni Day festivities Friday, which also marked the conclusion of spring practices.
"The older guys, for them to come out here, it's good to see the numbers," said Cougar quarterback Riley Nelson. "It fills you up with pride in the fact that you get to play for this program, but also you feel a very heavy responsibility, that you don't want to squander what those guys worked so hard to build."
Among those former players included quarterback Max Hall, currently an NFL free agent and three-year BYU starter.
"It was nice to have Max out here today," Nelson said. "I really appreciated it. I said, 'Hey, here are some things I've been struggling with, will you look at this, will you look at that? Tell me what you think and tell me how I can get better.' He did that, more than I expected. I got a lot of stuff to work on from Max."
Scores of players descended on campus Thursday to reunite with former teammates and coaches. Former defensive secondary players held a special reunion with former secondary coach Dick Felt, and former offensive linemen held a similar meeting with former O-line coach Roger French.
"That was kind of the vision, that when they started to come back, they would start having their own special (get-togethers) by year, by class or by position, so that's starting to take root, which is fun," said coach Bronco Mendenhall. "I just appreciate those wanting to come back to see what we're doing and show their support. What's happening is, they all bring family members now. It started with just the players. Now it's wives, kids, grandkids. That's even more fun."
"Anticlimactic" was the word Mendenhall chose to describe the final practice of spring ball.
"It was fine. It wasn't stellar. It was more of just the final practice with everybody ready for it to be done, knowing that there wasn't going to be a scrimmage, there wasn't going to be any contact," he said. "It was just more preparation for spring and summer in terms of drill work. So I would say anticlimactic. Another work day."
The biggest question going into the summer, Mendenhall said, is the health of placekicker Justin Sorensen, who is recovering from a back injury.
"There aren't many other questions, based on the reports of the guys that will be back and healthy (in the fall) and the depth we have at the positions. I think the stage is set to have a good team. But I felt that before spring."
Nelson said he and his team enjoyed a productive spring.
"It was good. Spring's all about reps and volume. I, personally, feel like I've got a lot of reps, more than I have in my whole college career," Nelson said. "I feel like I got a lot better. Those of us who are healthy got a lot better. It was tough dealing with all of the injuries, but there was an emphasis placed on not only hurrying back because we need you, but also getting ourselves in better shape than we have ever been to be able to prevent injuries. So a lot of good things came out of it both on and off the football field."
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